Magic ~ Bliss or a Dark Art?

Do You Believe in Magic (album)

Do You Believe in Magic (album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Everything you read has a kernel of truth. Or something that takes you by surprise.  The book I am reading right now is “A Discovery of Witches” by Deborah Harkness, and though it is a work of fiction, I think there are kernels of truth scattered throughout, and definitely surprises.

This book challenges many of my firmly rooted opinions. And it is these sentences, on page 72 that are responsible:

“I wanted to know how humans came up with a view of the world that had so little magic in it….I needed to understand how they convinced themselves that magic wasn’t important.”

These statements were in response to a vampire asking a witch why she was interested in the history of science. The witch is the main character or protagonist in the book, Diana Bishop. The vampire is Matthew Clairmont. I am far enough into the book to be intrigued—and I found Diana’s statements very telling: why do we think there is so little magic in the world?

This is not a book I would generally pick up—I am not a real vampire fan, but the story introduces the readers to an intelligent, alternate world that many of us may not be familiar with. I am finding it difficult to parse fact from fiction, but that is what makes it so interesting.

Magic is a word that conjures wonder. I must say that I agree with Diana ~ why do we live in a world where we are not believers in magic?

Is there bliss in magic, or do you think of it as a dark art?


Published in: on February 7, 2013 at 5:35 pm  Comments (50)  
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Time for Ghoulies and Ghosties and Long Legged Beasties

Cover of "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie...

Cover of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

 Kingsville is my hometown on Lake Erie near Windsor

“A house is never still in darkness to those who listen intently; there is a whispering in distant chambers, an unearthly hand presses the *snib of the window, the latch rises. Ghosts were created when the first man awoke in the night.”  J.M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan, is the originator of these words which are an eerie prelude to this season of Halloween. Many find the dark quiet and comforting, a respite from the busyness of the “lighted” hours. But at this time of year, we do pause, even for just a moment on Halloween and wonder if the ghoulies and ghosties and unexplained things that go bump in the night are getting restless.

Are there ghosts? I am not prepared to deny their existence. If they are like Casper then all is well, but as for some of his green tinged ghastly cohorts and diaphanous friends the colour of fog, I am not so sure. Kingsville famously has the ghost, George, who resides at Kings Landing. By all accounts, he is mischievous but never hurtful or threatening. From my cursory research, his existence is known only through phantom footsteps and flickering lights as he is shy and has never shown his gossamer self. In other words, George is my kind of ghost.

An online blog called Red Room that I belong to asked us to write our favourite ghost story. I do not have a favourite ghost story—although if I had to choose one, it would be about George—being a hometown boy and all. But I must admit, his penchant for turning taps on and lights off is not an appealing trait.

I have adopted the “cute and fuzzy school of Halloween”; my stance on the scarier side of the celebration is to ignore it. I love the little princesses and frogs that come to my door, the boys and girls dressed as their favourite heroines and heroes—be they caped, crowned, or sparkly. I admire imaginative costumes, even if they are creepy, for after all, even I have to accept and respect that Halloween’s more gory aspects has its admirers, though I am not one, nor will I ever join their fold.

In light of  my penchant for an non-scary Halloween, I typed in “cheery Halloween quotes” and Googled it. This is what I came up with—a few funny quotes and moan worthy jokes. So if you are like me, and not fond of the dark side—read on. If you do like the dark side, well just consider the following an expansion of your horizons into another kinder, gentler universe:

“I’ll bet living in a nudist colony takes all the fun out of Halloween.” – Unknown Author

“There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin.” – Linus from ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown’

“Charlie Brown is the one person I identify with. C.B. is such a loser. He wasn’t even the star of his own Halloween special.” – Chris Rock

“Nothing on Earth is so beautiful as the final haul on Halloween night.” – Steve Almond

“On Halloween, the parents sent their kids out looking like me.” – Rodney Dangerfield

A few jokes the website terms as funny follow—you be the judge:

Q. What do the skeletons say before eating? A. Bone appetit!

Q. What happens when two vampires meet? A. It was love at first bite!

Q. What’s a Vampire’s least favourite song? A. Another one bites the dust!

Q. Why was the mummy so tense? A. Because he was all wound up.

Q. Why didn’t the skeleton go to see a scary movie? A. He didn’t have the guts.

If nothing else, you can pass these jokes onto any eight year old you know—they will appreciate them. As for me and Halloween at my house, I may don my witch’s hat (with veils and pretty silky black flowers),  give out some candy, then turn my lights off at 8:00. After all even witches need to get their beauty sleep. (I have purchased my candy a little ahead of time—but bought stuff that does not tempt me—there is nothing worse than candy bars that call to you in the night, except maybe for ghoulies and ghosties and things that go bump in the night!)

*If you are wondering, a snib is the catch that holds the bolt on a lock.

Garlic on Your Feet?

Image of a container of Vicks VapoRub

Image of a container of Vicks VapoRub (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Did you know that if you rub garlic on your feet that within 20 minutes you can taste it? This I learned from an email sent by a friend who passes on all kinds of vital and indispensable information to me. In the same email, she shared some very interesting information regarding  VICKS Vapo Rub. I remember Vicks being applied to my neck and chest area quite generously by my mom when I  had a cold and cough as a  kid. Then she would put a warm towel on the area, and I would fall into a blissful sleep (giving her some much needed rest too.)

Little did I know that the Vicks should have been applied to the soles of my feet for the utmost relief. At least that is what this fellow who attended a lecture on Essential Oils claims (and then posted it on the Internet for all to see). Apparently our soles absorb oils. (Makes you want to be careful about walking barefoot doesn’t it?)

The fellow who wrote up this “essential” advice, (let’s call him Sam so we do not have to keep calling him “fellow”) says that you can stop night time coughing by applying Vicks Vapo Rub to the soles of your feet, then cover them with socks, and within about five minutes the coughing stops.  Sam swears by this and says it works 100% of the time. And the bonus is you get soft feet.  A medicine that multi-tasks—who knew? The dual promise of no coughing and soft feet is just something I cannot resist. I do refuse to put garlic on my feet though, unless there is word of a vampire breakout (which may not be all that far-fetched, given all the books and movies dedicated to the fanged warriors.)

Sam says that his wife tried this when she had a deep and persistent cough and it worked. He learned of this method himself after listening to a radio morning talk show, which featured a chap talking about cough medicines and why they often do more harm to children than good because of all the chemicals in them. Sam does not say who the “chap” was, but for the sake of argument, let us believe he was doctor (and not just one who played a doctor on TV.)

While I am dispensing a little advice on colds, I will share with you a little recipe guaranteed to soothe a cold that I ran across in the book, “How to Sew a Button and Other Nifty Things Your Grandmother Knew” by Erin Bried. (I just cannot resist a book that has the word nifty in the title.) It is called “How to Make a Hot Tea Toddy”, and the Grandma who came up with it obviously had a bit of a sense of humour.

Step 1: Brew a cup of tea by pouring boiling water over a tea bag, preferably decaffeinated so you don’t get jittery. Let steep for a few minutes. (I have it on good authority that you should steep it for exactly three minutes.)

Step 2: Add a swirl of honey to taste. (Not a dollop, not a teaspoon, a swirl—this is very important). Honey apparently not only tastes good but coats your throat and relieves soreness and coughing.

Step 3: Quarter a lemon and squeeze over your cup to add “lip-smacking tartness” (you can’t make this stuff up). 

Okay, Step 4 gets to the heart of the matter: Add a shot of whiskey or bourbon to the tea. Depending on how bad you feel, add a shot of whiskey or bourbon to your mouth too (there’s that sense of humour I was talking about).

Step 5: Hold cup to your face, breathing in the hot steam to clear up your schnoz.

Step 6: Climb under your covers, and sip until you get drowsy.

Step 7: Set the cup down first. Very important! Then fall asleep.

Step 8: Dream good dreams. Snoring is optional.

Now, I am betting that if you don’t drink alcohol, the honey and lemon by themselves will probably do the trick, but I would put a little Vapo-rub on the soles of your feet if you want to leave out the whiskey. In the book, Grandma adds three more “nifty” tips for nursing a cold: Sit by the fireside to stay toasty as feeling chilled can suppress your immune system; gargle with warm water three times a day to wash away germs; and wash your hands often with soap, and “for goodness sake keep them away from your face.”

So with Sam and Grandma’s advice under your belt, you have a few more ways to combat any cold that invades your personal space. Just remember don’t tea toddy and drive.

Published in: on September 12, 2011 at 12:14 am  Comments (20)  
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